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It's the most wonderful time of the year UnAwards 2017.jpg

The UnAwards17 ceremony was a chance to recognise excellence, celebrate success, connect with new faces and say hello to old friends.

by Darren Caveney

The UnAwards have become something of a pre-Christmas tradition with communications professionals from all across the UK converging on the event’s spiritual home, the Everyman Cinema in Birmingham.

Demand for tickets is always high and not everyone managed to bag a ticket this year. But the demand just adds to the special vibe experienced at Friday’s fourth annual UnAwards. What was pleasing to me was that half of the attendees had been to an UnAwards ceremony before. 10 people had even been to all four.

Each year I give the UnAwards a new theme and this year’s was perfectly reflected by all of the winners – being brave, doing it differently and swimming against the tide. Choosing a film for 140 people is always a bit tricky – not everyone would appreciate my ‘potential’ choices of Goodfellas, Rocky 3 or Pulp Fiction. Jerry Maguire was this year’s choice and definitely supported this year’s theme – and many of the audience seated in screen 3 hadn’t seen it.

Winning. Always be winning.

18 winners walked away happy that their work had emerged top against a huge volume of high quality competition. Those shortlisted and highly commended should be mighty proud of their achievements too. We’re a competitive bunch in our industry so those people will undoubtedly have been a bit disappointed not to have won. But they really shouldn’t. And if motivation were needed for the UAwards18 it’s that a couple of people shortlisted last year picked up wins this year, including a home-town win for Birmingham City Council.

The best thing of all about the UnAwards is the chance to spend some quality time with peers and to meet and connect with new contacts. A day out of the office, away from the daily pressures, to do this is really valuable. Is this work, some might ask? Hell, yes. In fact it’s my favourite work day of the year.

Here are some more thoughts and reflections now that the magic dust has settled…

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue equalled Sheffield City Council’s feat from 2015 in picking up three wins. A fabulous achievement and against very stiff competition. You can see their rather brilliant campaign video here. Well done, team.

There was so little to separate the four shortlisted best comms pros, and that really is a title to be proud of. Well done to Ceri Lewis, Rebecca Beck and Albert Freeman and to the winner Melissa Thermidor.

Likewise the winners of best comms team, Enfield Council, who were nominated by someone else and encouraged to enter. A lesson there for sure.

The best low cost comms was the most popular category with 60 entries. A clear sign of the times. Impressive work couldn’t even make the final shortlist but that has to be good in terms of continuous improvement and the raising of bars.

Greater Manchester Police winning the best crisis/emergency comms category will have been celebrated my many. The very least the team there deserve.

It was good to see an increase in the number of entrants and winners from the NHS this year. I hope this continues next year.

And the important category of best ethical communications behaviour and diversity too saw a good increase versus last year’s numbers. Let’s push this even higher again next year.

Having two previous Lifetime Achievement UnAwards winners to hand over to this year’s winner Jill Walden was special. Winning a Lifetime Achievement UnAward guarantees an invite every year so I hope that Jill Walden can join us and do the same in 2018.

The Lifetime Achievement award saw two exceptional police communications leads who have each done so much for their sector over a significant period of time. I thought it was so appropriate that, given some of the terrible and tragic events of 2017, that it was two police communicators nominated this year. It’s almost unfair to call one a winner as both Jill and Amanda Coleman deserve our thanks and recognition.

Talking to colleagues from the emergency services at the event it’s clear that employers have a responsibility to safeguard the mental health of their staff which includes comms teams. Some do. Others from across all sectors? I’m not convinced. I’ve thought and said for a while that I don’t believe we do enough as an industry to provide sufficient support for wellbeing for comms people and teams and this is something which needs greater attention. Comms Unplugged – highly commended in the UnAwards – has wellbeing at its heart and that’s what made it special for those who attended. More on this in future posts.  

Saying thanks

Big thanks to Granicus for being the official UnAwards17 partner and to Alive With Ideas, Perago Wales, the Local Government Association, NUJ PRCC, SocialSignIn, Social Simulator and the Council Advertising Network for sponsoring. It’s a pleasure to work with you all. If anyone from the comms2point0 community would like me to introduce you to any of these fine folk please contact me.


Well done to the 70 on the shortlist and the highly commended entries.

And a big well done to the 18 winners.

You can see the full list of winners here.

Finally, finally, some metrics…

The dedicated website has received over 10k unique since this year’s UnAwards was launched.

And in the week of the #UnAwards17 187 contributors created a reach on 557k of Twitter.

I know, they are vanity metrics. But it’s ok to be a little bit vain occasionally?

Finally, finally, finally…

If you want to look for yourself in the official pics by Nigel Bishop here’s the link (thanks, Nigel) and here is a short film too.

So the UnAwards17 ends. One of my next tasks is to organise the Masterclass next year to showcase and learn from the winners. Shout if you’re interested in sponsoring this.

And talking of next year I’m already off and running with plenty of new ideas. And there is already a date…

SAVE THE DATE – The UnAwards18 will take place on Friday 7 December.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and organiser of the UnAwards

pic by me

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Sometimes, in life, you have the opportunity to create something beautiful from nothing.

by Darren Caveney

Being able to make the UnAwards happen each year is the very best part of my job.

I had coffee with a comms colleague last week and he asked me how long I spend on the UnAwards. Truth is I don’t know – I don’t log it – but it would be in weeks not days if I were keeping a count.

You see it doesn’t matter. A key part of the original ethos behind comms2point0 was to fly a flag for comms people everywhere and shine a light on the great work I know you do, each and every day, all across the UK and beyond. That’s why I do it.

The UnAwards are an important way of recognising and celebrating the sung and the unsung no matter what size your team or budget, no matter what sector to do your thing in, and no matter whether you’ve been plying your trade for 20 years or 6 months. Anyone can win an UnAward. Anyone. But this year, more than ever before, you’re going to have to be blooming good…

Some numbers. Big numbers

You’ll probably know that we had 332 entries into the #UnAwards16. Enormous by anyone’s standard. It makes me beam when I look through the mass entries. I’m in such a fortunate position to be able to see the work you’ve carefully crafted and delivered this past year. My many hats are off to you all.

But this volume makes for even tougher decisions

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the competition has been fierce this year. One category exceeded 40 entries. Wow. There is work of a real quality not even making shortlists this year. This is a good thing because it helps us to raise our collective standards.

 Saying thanks

A huge thank you to everyone who has entered this year.

A big thank you to ‘Super Luke’ Williams who has been masterful in his logging and categorising of all 332 entries.  He deserves an award of his own.

And an extra special thank you to the judges this year who have worked minor miracles to get through the volume of entries the UnAwards16 attracted. I owe you all beer. Thank you kindly.

Don’t forget the public vote

If you haven’t already done so – tut tut - please do get voting in this year’s public vote. There are three categories you can choose the winners for: team of the year, post of the year and the prestigious lifetime achievement UnAward.

Voting closes on Wednesday 23 November (midnight) and you can vote here.

And now the bit you’re really interested in – the shortlist

Here’s the UnAwards16 shortlist. If you’re on it you should go out and treat yourself to a slap-up meal because that, I can assure you, is an amazing achievement.

Tickets to the big day…

Now comes the inevitable scramble for tickets. I’ve probably bored you senseless for the last two months by telling you not to delay on buying a ticket to the #UnAwards16. That’s because I know it will sell out again and because we have a strict limit on tickets. 141 to be precise.

I’ve held them at £20 + vat for the third year running to ensure they are totally inclusive. And for that opportunity we owe lots of gratitude to our partner, GovDelivery, and our sponsors Alive With Ideas, the Local Government Association, Social Simulator and the NUJ PRCC. I love you all for your continued support of our fine industry.

There are a few tickets left as I post this update. They are limited to two per organisation now, purely to try and get as many organisations there as is possible.

You can – currently – book your ticket here.

Looking forward to seeing many of you on the big day on 1 December at the fantastic Everyman Cinema in Birmingham.

And no, I’m not telling any of you what the surprise film is going to be. But you’ll love it :-)

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and organiser of the UnAwards16

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Here it is, the moment you've been waiting for. The UnAwards16 public vote is OPEN.

by Darren Caveney

In the 2015 UnAwards I was determined that I wanted the comms community to choose some of the winners.

You make these decisions and then sit back and hope things pan out well. Well, fortunately, it did go well - over 2.5k votes were cast. So I am delighted to launch the UnAwards16 public vote today to give you the chance to choose your favourites from three important categories...

Team of the year

You have 17 teams to choose from in this prestigious category and each has done amazing things this year. The entrants highlight the real spread of organisations who have entered the #UnAwards16, including six local councils, three NHS organisations, two fire and rescue teams and one from each of central government, police, housing and travel.

This is tough, tough competition - you've a difficult task to select a winner.

Post of the year

Here you have this year's top 10 most read posts from guest contributors in the running. There are some belters in the line up so have a good read and choose your favourite carefully.

Lifetime achievement award

You have two outstanding professionals to choose from, both with a long and successful track record of delivery and leading teams. Another difficult choice but choose you must.

So make your vote count by choosing your personal winners HERE.

The public vote is open until 23 November (midnight) so you have plenty of time to ponder on your choices. Happy pondering.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0, owner of creative communicators ltd and organiser of the #UnAwards16

image via the Finnish Museum of Photography


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"Are the UnAwards a proper awards event if it only costs £20 to attend them?"

I was asked this question last year. Well, actually, it was an attendee who said her boss had asked the question.

It's fair to ask. We're all busy and our time needs to be spent on things which add value, help us develop, make us better at our jobs.

Yes, the UnAwards are proper awards because the people who take part, enter, nominate and attend are what make an award. Not the ticket price or the venue.

Now we could run the UnAwards in a large London hotel, make it black tie and exclusive and charge £300 a ticket. But that isn't our style. And I don't believe it's what colleagues across the industry that we meet every week want either.

350 entries and 5k public votes in the 2014 and 2015 UnAwards back up our thinking.

So come along and enjoy what's my favourite industry gathering of the year.

The UnAwards16 will take place at the cool Everyman Cinema in Birmingham's Mailbox. It will feature a winners ceremony, a film - which remains a closely guarded secret until the big day (last year we watched the brilliant Planes Trains and Automobiles) - and then you'll have a rather lovely meal in the Everyman's Diner which we also hire for the event.

But best of all it's the number one meeting and networking opportunity I know. It's a chance to meet a really wide range of people at the cutting edge of our industry and from all across the UK.

And many of you used last year's event as the springboard to your office Christmas celebrations afterwards. Go you.

How much is it to attend?

We have held the ticket price for a third year running because we want as many of you to have the chance to be there as possible. Tickets are just £20 + VAT.

Will the event sell out?

Yes, almost certainly. The UnAwards15 was a complete sell out and we have a strict limit on numbers. So if you want to be at the coolest and most unique event in the industry calendar you should book sharpish.

You can book tickets to the glittering UnAwards16 ceremony taking place on 1 December right here. Don't miss it, it's going to be a cracker.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and the organiser of the UnAwards16

post image via The Library of Congress 


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We're committed to the UnAwards because we think they are an important initiative. Really important.

One of the reasons why we created our online learning platform five years ago was to fly a flag for comms people across the sectors.

We know you do an amazing job and often under difficult circumstances.

So the UnAwards is our own unique way of shining a spotlight on our industry and the people within it but with a very clear remit: It must always be accessible to everyone no matter who you are or what your budget is.

We are also committed to keeping the UnAwards fresh and ever-evolving.

So this year we have created three important, all-new categories which we think you should take a look at and enter yourself, your team, or nominate someone you think does a brilliant job.

Three new categories for the UnAwards16...

First off we have the 'Best social media account' category.

It struck me that this was perhaps the most competitive area in comms, marketing and digital right now in 2016. So why not create a new category to highlight the brilliant accounts we see operating across the UK and beyond.
Think of this one as the blue riband 400 metres final at the Olympics - fast and demanding a sustained effort plus a large slab of enthusiasm and creativity.

Does this sound like one of your accounts? Then don't be bashful, get your entry in here.

The next of our new entrants is the 'Best young communicator' category.

One of our followers and workshop attendees asked us, earlier in the year, why we didn't have a best young communicator category?
She was absolutely right, why didn't we? So here you go, we've created one.

Now we had a debate about what 'young' was and we've plumped for 30 or under.

Do you know someone who should be in the running and recognised?
Then get your entries or nominations in here.

The last of our new categories for 2016 is 'Best ethical comms or behaviour'.

If you have been working in comms for a while, or even a relatively short amount of time, you have probably faced challenges in this often not discussed area of our industry. Well that changes now.

Thanks to the good people at NUJ PRCC for sponsoring this important UnAward category.
You can enter here.

The closing date for entries is 31 October. We know you're busy but we really do believe that you owe it to you and your teams to make some time to enter and feel the love for the work you've crafted this year.

Good luck.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and the organiser of the UnAwards16

You can book tickets to the glittering UnAwards16 ceremony taking place on 1 December right here. Don't miss it, it's going to be a cracker.

image via the State Library of New South Wales




We know that a common complaint from comms folk, and others for that matter, is a lack of recognition for their work.

Whether it’s a brilliant campaign, managing communications through a crisis or just turning up every day of the year and being the best you can be, it’s not a lot to ask to get the odd ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’.

But it doesn’t happen often enough for many and that is one of the reasons behind the comms2point UnAwards16 - to shine a light on the professionals proudly flying comms, pr and digital flags across the sectors.

Now there’s only one thing better than being shortlisted for an award - that’s being nominated by someone else for an award. It’s a special thing.  It means you’ve caught someone’s eye, demanded their attention or impressed them with your creativity, doggedness, enthusiasm and skills.

Know someone like that? Then why not nominate them in the UnAwards16.

All you need to do is complete this dead easy entry form here and email it through to

You can nominate an individual or a team in any of this year's categories. Two which really lend themselves to nominations are...

-          Best comms/digital team

-          Lifetime achievement award

When we set up the UnAwards we were absolutely clear that they would be the most accessible industry awards around.  Where the community were actively involved in shaping and deciding.

So, best of all you, the comms community, gets to choose the winners through a public vote in these two categories, as well as our 'Post of the year' category.

We’ll tell you more about the public vote soon.


The closing date is 31 October so get nominating.


Want to soak up the atmosphere of the coolest comms, PR, marketing and digital event of the year in person? UnAwards tickets are priced at just £20 + vat each. See, we told you the UnAwards were really accessible.

Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis and will sell out so don’t hang around.  Book yours now here.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point and organiser of the UnAwards16


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You owe it to yourself and your team to enter the UnAwards16, It's free and easy to do and you have plenty of time to do it. So no excuses, right?

By Darren Caveney

Each year the UnAwards has a theme – and this year, our third UnAwards, the theme is team work and collaboration.

Whether you’re a team of one relying upon other colleagues, a medium-sized team who’s taken some financial hits and trying to keep pace, or a large team with big expectation on your heads, it all comes down to great team work and really effective collaboration.

Along with great planning, good use of research, brilliant execution, measured outcomes, and big slabs of creativity, it’s team work and collaboration that is going to make your comms, pr, marketing and digital work fly high.

We know so many of you are doing great things and this is your chance to showcase yours, and your team’s, best work.

Some reasons why you ‘might’ not enter

I’m in the very fortunate position that I get to see first-hand the work which comms professionals across the UK are delivering. I’m constantly impressed by the hard work, professionalism and creativity which keep organisational wheels turning.

But I spotted a couple of people I know who didn’t enter in 2015. I pondered on why this may have beenthen I- but thought “stuff the pondering, why not just ask them?”.

The reason they gave wasn’t the reason I expected…

I expected them to say they hadn’t had time. But what some of them said was that they didn’t think their work last year was award-entry standard. This made me feel a bit sad to be honest, but I thought about this and suspected that their work HAD been good enough. The issue was one of confidence.

It’s really important to feel confident in your work. But if you’re in a team which has taken quite an internal beating it’s completely understandable that confidence gets knocked. The UnAwards are an opportunity to redress the balance – remind yourself that you do good things, work which makes a difference.

It’s a truism that will never go away and it’s that no one else is likely to shout about you and your work. You need to do it yourself. Nobody likes a show-off but putting your work forward to compete with the rest is a really good way to tackle this issue. I've seen it work, first-hand and many times.

There has literally never been a more important time to shout about your work than right now, especially for those facing another round of annual cuts to budgets and teams and morale in some teams in need of a small boost.

Yes, I know you’re busy. Everyone is. But the people who get on - and get noticed - manage their time so that they give themselves an hour to nail a really strong award entry, You owe it to yourself and your teams.

The world won’t end if you take a little bit of time to submit an entry. If you don’t crow about your best work for sure no-one else will.

So enter the UnAwards16 and let our judges decide whose work stands out.

OK, I’m in – how do I enter

Simple. You simply complete a short word document and you email it to us. That's it.

Take a look here for everything you need.

There are 18 categories to choose from so absolutely something for everyone.

And this year we have three all-new categories - best social media account, best young communicator and best ethical comms or behaviour.

Make the next thing you do, right now, putting an hour in your diary asap to get the ball rolling with a brilliant entry or two.

Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and organiser of the UnAwards

Come along to the big day on 1 December - it's the coolest comms event of the year and you'll have the chance to meet and connect with some new colleagues from around the UK.

You can book your tickets here.

If you’ve forgotten how epic the UnAwards15 were, or you’ve not been involved in them before, here’s a neat, short video...

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There are several reasons for us running the UnAwards 15. Celebrating the work and efforts of colleagues across comms, PR, marketing and digital is right up there amongst them, of course.

But for me it runs a little deeper than that.

By Darren Caveney

We run the UnAwards to support and – in our own way - fly a flag for folks across the UK and beyond who are working in difficult circumstances and still delivering day after day. To sing for the unsung, to recognise the unrecognised.

I hear – and I hear it way too often, I’m afraid – of some less than great behaviours by some organisations and the way they are treating staff. To a degree this is to be expected with the enormous and ongoing cuts to the public sector – with 350k people leaving local government alone in the past five years there is unprecedented change taking place.

But this doesn’t excuse shoddy behaviour.

Lack of recognition has been a theme in much of the staff survey feedback I have seen over the years too. Sometimes your achievements will be appreciated by others, sometimes they’ll not be. That’s a fact of comms life, as it is in life.

And for me, part of the UnAwards is flying back into face of this and celebrating what you do and do well. We’ve been at, and are, at your coalface so we know.

So the real reason why you should enter the UnAwards is to celebrate you.

The UnAwards are about sticking your hands up in the air, proudly, and saying “you know what – I did some bloody good things this year. And I damn well should celebrate them.”

If you’re feeling a bit unloved, the community will show you some love. We all need some, right?

And whether you are ultimately shortlisted or not in the UnAwards s not necessarily the most important thing either - taking some time out to reflect back on all you have done this year is. This can only be a good thing for you personally, for your teams, and for your organisations.

Of course, if you have done something amazing you should absolutely crow about it, get it on your LinkedIn profile and write a post about it on You never know, it may just get you spotted and open a door somewhere for you.


Then get cracking. You have until the end of Wednesday 28 October to enter.

Grab an hour with a cup of coffee, sit somewhere quiet and do yourself proud.

You’ll be glad you did.

p.s. Don’t forget to nominate someone brilliant in our two public categories: Lifetime achievement and best comms/digital team.

Darren Caveney is co-creator of comms2point0 and the UnAwards

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